Sister's needless death will always be painful

To the editor:

It was a phone call in the middle of the night. I didn't answer — probably a wrong number. A little while later, my son Kyle came running home from a sleep-over to tell me to call my sister, Pam.

Panic quickly set in. I couldn't believe what I was hearing on the phone. My sister, Terri, was in a bad accident, a very bad accident.

"I'm on my way" was all I could say. By 4 a.m., we were all in the car, headed to New Jersey, unsure of Terri's condition.

Walking into the hospital room, I knew it was bad. I naively thought — I need to call her principal. I don't think she's going to be able to finish the last few weeks of the school year.

Over the next couple hours we learned the devastating news that she would never be going back to teaching, or ever coming home.

This nightmare replays in my mind often, but especially at this time of year. For me, also a teacher, Memorial Day weekend has always marked the ending of school year and the start of a much-needed summer break.

Now it marks a period of grieving for the upcoming anniversary of the horrific, senseless tragedy that changed our family forever. How could she be here one day, and gone the next? It still crushes me to this day.

Nine years later, this anniversary is even more difficult, knowing that the man who killed my sister will soon be released from jail. Was my sister's life worth only eight years in prison? What is the appropriate punishment for mowing down a 39-year-old single mother of two?


If we are honest, most of us can recall at least one time that we got behind the wheel when we should not have. And for most of us, we thankfully got home safely and did not hurt anyone. I cannot imagine the devastation of knowing that your behavior ended someone's life. But how do you forgive someone who takes no responsibility for his actions? Is he destined to kill again once released with his destructive behavior? I pray that he does not. I wouldn't wish this pain on my worst enemy.

I would give anything for one more day with my sister. We were the five Rogerwick sisters, and that link has been forever broken.

My sister Stephanie keeps looking for new photos of Terri that she has not yet shared, but the harsh reality is there will never be any new pictures of Terri. What we have is all we will ever have, thanks to a drunk driver. My heart breaks for her children, as well as my parents, who will never be the same.

In memory of my sister, as well as the countless other victims of this crime, please think before you drink and drive. If not for yourself, than for the innocent victims with whom your path may cross.

Life is so incredibly fragile and precious.

Terri Kling — 2/8/1968-6/3/2007

Chris LaPatin, Pittsfield